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An agreement has been reached this week to amend the Kinlochleven to Fort William bus timetable following a backlash over the ‘negative impact’ of the service.
The current timetable, introduced earlier this year after Shiel Buses were awarded the contract, removed the last bus leaving from Fort William to Kinlochleven and changed the second last bus to the earlier time of 8pm. These changes left some bus users in the Kinlochleven area with no choice but to consider quitting their jobs as they could not fulfill evening shifts.
Now, however, following a meeting on Monday with council officials, Shiel Buses has agreed to amend the N44 Kinlochleven service so that the last bus leaving from Fort William will return to the previous time of 8.40pm.
The bus operator has also agreed to address the 10-minute delay of buses leaving from Kinlochleven in the morning due to the school runs to Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Loch Abar, the Gaelic School in Caol.
As well as the timetable changes, Highland Council and Shiel Buses have vowed to display bus timetables more prominently within bus stops for visitors and those without the means to check timetables on mobile devices.
It is expected that these the amendments will be rolled out around the end of November.
Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Niall MacLean was pleased to see the 8.40pm service reinstated but felt that the changes do not go far enough.
He said: ‘Unfortunately this is too little too late for those who have already been negatively impacted by the timetable changes and I realise still leaves some of these impacts unresolved. All of which could have been avoided with community consultation by the Highland Council administration.’
Mr MacLean previously condemned the original changes made to the timetable by Highland Council, labeling them as ‘unacceptable’ and claiming they would ‘add to economic hardship in the area’.
The SNP councillor also criticised the ‘abysmal’ level of consultation by the council and said that some bus users he spoke to found out with five days notice through a post on the bus operator’s social media platform.
The Lochaber Times tried to contact Highland Council and Shiel Buses but both were unavailable for comment before the paper went to print.